What do you do when you have a German Shepherd puppy that needs a job? You start by taking her to puppy play groups. Oh, but she doesn't care about playing with other puppies, she goes from person to person saying "Pet me, you need to pet me." It was those moments that caused me to start looking at what "jobs" where out there for my GSD that involved people. We tried training other dogs and people in obedience classes. No, that wasn't something that Loki loved to do. She did it because I asked her to do it.
What's next? I stumbled upon a newspaper article that talked about children reading to dogs in the local library. Maybe this was the answer. That brought us to Animal Assisted Therapy/Interactions and eventually to Animal Assisted Crisis Response. Loki thrived in this work, and drug me with her. I was a sky, withdrawn person. I learned to share her joy and ability to make life better for other humans. I traveled, both visiting during crisis responses and helping to train and evaluate teams for HOPE crisis response. I met people from all across the United States and some that moved back home to Europe.
Locally, I made great friends that visited with me at many venues, including some complex sites within the Oregon correctional institute. Most of these people I continue to have lasting, deep friendships regardless of distance.
I attend every dog training opportunity I could find, usually with Annmarie Bruning, a fellow therapy
dog team. We completely "dog geeked" out together.
Annmarie and I decided to start a dog training business dedicated to training the BEST therapy dog teams. Annmarie is still part of the inspiration, source of truth for the business and best friend,
though no longer an active partner. Starting a dog training business introduced me to the "world of dogs", K9 Nose Work and other dog sports. Once again, my world changed and expanded. More
friends, more experiences, more education, more training, more love.
I can never thank that little German Shepherd puppy for the immense work she gave to all. By understanding what she needed to be joyful and happy, and following her lead, she taught me so
very much about living. She turned my world upside down, expanded it, completed it and I will
never be the same again.
Thank you, my heart dog, Loki... you are missed but never will be forgotten.
I have been active with my own therapy dogs, starting with Loki, since 2000. Loki's love of
interacting with people lead me to the world of Animal Assisted Therapy and Animal Assisted
Crisis Response. We became a registered therapy dog team with Pet Partner (Delta Society) in
2000. I became an evaluator for Pet Partners in 2001. We became an active team for HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis Response in 2002.
I served on the founding board of directors for HOPE, as Secretary, and trained and evaluated
teams until Loki was retired.
Because of Loki, I have friends and associates throughout the United States and abroad. One
dog changed my life.
Gisa and Issy, following in Loki's paw prints, are currently registered therapy dogs with Pet Partners. Over the years my canine partners and I have visited in a variety of venues. Hospitals, nursing
homes, "Read to the Dog" in libraries and classrooms, pre-school teaching humane education,
college finals de-stress events, Oregon Correctional Facilities, to name a few. We have
responded to traumatic events, including visiting at Ground Zero in 2002. We are currently
visiting teams for Mt Hood Hospice, local hospitals and nursing homes.
I developed a program in partnership with Pathfinders of Oregon, an organization teaching
parenting skills in Oregon Correctional Institutions. The program ran for 8 years, and I and
Loki or Gisa were present at every visit.
I've served on many committees: DoveLewis Animal Assisted Therapy and Education Steering committee, Training Committee for National Crisis Response Canines and on the board of "The Little
Dog Laughed". Our work with HOPE AACR as a founding board member, officer, team as well as
training and evaluating of the teams helped to define that organization.
I developed a therapy dog training and evaluation program for Mt Hood Hospice. Cold Noses Warm Hearts Dog Training came out of my passion working with Therapy Dogs and Crisis Response dogs.
It was created to give the best training program, starting at puppyhood to adult dog, possible for
I have been blessed to have canine partners that have allowed me to bring a better life, even if
just for a moment, to many humans in so many walks of life.
Dogs can make people smile, forget the bad, remember the good, bridge a gap between people, encourage a child/adult to want to walk again, make impending death easier and so much more.
A social worker or other health care professional can incorporate a canine into their practice in
many ways. An non-professional can offer visits with a dog that brightens someone's day. Properly trained dogs and humans, I should say, have so many gifts to give to humanity.
How a German Shepherd Changed My Life
The dog behind Cold Noses Warm Hearts Dog Training